The Blevins Connection
by Zane Gard, Sounding Board Staff Writer
Forget the Miami Heat. Grace men’s tennis has landed its own Big Three.
Hailing from Vancouver, Wash., are Michael Blevins, Aaron Blevins, and Jack Wang. While Michael may not be LeBron James and Winona Lake might never pass for South Beach, there is much to be excited about for the men’s tennis team.
The Blevins brothers and Wang met at a junior tournament called the Adidas Cup at the beginning of high school in 2006. During warm-ups, the players started talking and formed a friendship that would continue throughout their time together at the same high school. They had no idea where that friendship would take them then.
Four years later, all three are playing together at Grace. Last year, Michael came to Grace to help the program as a player, following his parents’ and brother’s footsteps, who also played tennis at Grace. Aaron an Wang joined him this year, mostly because of outstanding recruiting. Recruiting by Michael, that is.
Michael made sure to let his brother know where he should go to school. “He texted me almost every day saying, ‘Are you coming to Grace yet?’” Aaron said. Aaron soon gave in and decided to join his brother at Grace, completing the second of three steps in the process.
Wang, on the other hand, could have gone to Western Washington University to study art. “Trying to decide which college to go to for me was like watching a fat kid deciding between a Twinkie and a donut,” Wang joked. While still talking frequently with Michael, he was convinced to apply to Grace, which he “didn’t even consider” at first. While head coach Larry Schuh said he “didn’t really have to do much recruiting,” Wang said he too played an instrumental part in his coming, calling frequently to check up on him.
The climax of the recruiting process was when Michael convinced Wang to come visit Grace over his spring break. Wang left Grace impressed by how nice the people were, and after visiting Washington later, he saw the difference between the students. Wang decided to go with the Blevins brothers to play tennis at Grace.
The Blevins brothers and Wang bring a history of success with them to Grace. While playing together at the Vancouver Tennis Center in high school, Aaron and Wang went two straight years together without a team loss, and all three went Michael’s senior year without a team loss. After being district and league champions for three consecutive years, they wanted to see how well they would be together at the next level.
The goal of this Big Three is to turn Grace tennis into a top-25 program, win conference, and qualify for the NAIA tournament on a team and individual level.
“Coach Schuh convinced me that we will make nationals while I’m here,” Aaron said. The added accountability of having each other in practice allows them to know how to push and encourage each other.
This past season was somewhat of a disappointment for the Washington trio. Michael, who won the MCC singles tournament last year, missed time this year with ankle injuries. Wang and Aaron also had to play while battling illness. The goal of winning the conference will not happen this year after Grace lost to Indiana Wesleyan 5-4 in the MCC tournament, and was plagued with ankle injuries throughout the season. Despite losing, the players are ready to focus on next year and the promising future ahead of them.
Over 2,000 miles away, the friends have been a piece of home away from home. Scenic mountains and rivers of Washington have been replaced with Indiana’s flatlands. This is even as far east as Wang has been, who admitted to feeling homesick sometimes during the longest stint he has been away.
It is here in northern Indiana that the friendship of three West Coast tennis players has come. This new tennis trio from Washington has the potential to accomplish things never done before for Grace’s tennis program. Hopefully their success from high school carries over.
This story was published in the October 15 edition of Grace’s student newspaper, The Sounding Board.